"Sunday Night Football" has highest-rated episode ever

Tue Sep 11, 2012 5:13pm EDT

Denver Broncos tight end Jacob Tamme (R) scores a touchdown past Pittsburgh Steelers safety Ryan Mundy in their NFL football game in Denver September 9, 2012. REUTERS/Rick Wilking

Denver Broncos tight end Jacob Tamme (R) scores a touchdown past Pittsburgh Steelers safety Ryan Mundy in their NFL football game in Denver September 9, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Rick Wilking

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NEW YORK (TheWrap.com) - Sunday's game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Denver Broncos was the highest-rated episode of "Sunday Night Football" ever on NBC, and tied the 2010 "NFL Kickoff" opener on a Thursday for the highest-rated regular season game ever to air on the network, NBC said.

The matchup on "Sunday Night Football" - which ousted "American Idol" last season as television's highest-rated show - scored a 16.5 national rating and a total audience of 27.6 million, making it NBC's second-most-watched regular-season primetime game. (Viewership was less than one percent below the most-watched NFL regular-season primetime game ever on NBC. The Dallas Cowboys-New York Giants game last year that determined the NFC East title had 27.62 million total viewers.)

Sunday's game scored an 11 rating in the advertiser-coveted 18-49 demographic, the highest demo rating for any regular-season primetime NFL game ever on NBC. It was also the best rating in the demo for an NFL regular-season primetime game on any network since a Broncos-San Francisco 49ers game on December 15, 1997 scored an 11.6 rating for ABC.

In Sunday's game, Peyton Manning led the Broncos to a 31-19 win in his first appearance as the team's quarterback.

The Minnesota Vikings-New Orleans Saints "NFL Kickoff" game on September 9, 2010 also scored a 16.5 rating.

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